The Journal

 

Serving the Metropolitan Area

 

Since 1872

   

September 24th

 

A SOCIETY of SPECTACLE!

 

By Jack Parnell - retired Congressman and Independent Presidential candidate

 

Syndicated by Acme Features

 

 

"The fearful standardization of this age is making one place so like another that there will be no point soon in leaving home. Architecture, dress and food as prepared by the gigantic hotel combines in their exactly similar restaurants and grill rooms are becoming the same the world over."

 

           - H. V. Morton, "In Search of Scotland" (1929)

 

"If I had a choice to either make money or be respected, I'd definitely go for the money."

 

          - Vanilla Ice (whenever, dude)

 

          Flew to Washington... state of, not the Federal termitery nest... and, being as the flight movie sequel sucked, I cracked this book: "Society of the Spectacle" by some dead French people called Situationists, as dismissed "the whole modern culture as a manipulative system promoting a brutalizing mass consumption." Near as I can figure, most Situationists did a group Abbie Hoffman or, maybe, Jim Jones over nobody in France... let alone America, or anywhere that really matters... givin' a half-kilo of merde ‘bout their complaints. (They did inspire some English arts-hustler to dress up these rent boys in safety-pins and market their music as, quote unquote, punk-rock which, at least, gave some depressed teenagers an alternative to countrypolitan and disco.)

          Back in the 1950s and '60s, eggheads like President Eisenhower went ignored too, carping about the military-industrial-complex (as became prison-industrial, then adding surveillance-marketing so that would be PISMC, wouldn’t it, Hammer’s loathsomely incontinent cousin?). Herbert Schiller (in "Mass Communications and American Empire", 1969) remarked: "...domestically, the realm is governed confidently by a propertied managerial and industrial corps, instructing a consumer community stratified by income and race," but questioners of the spectacle went back to their espresso-ghettos of Haight-Ashbury, Venice Beach or Greenwich Village (where they could afford the rents, in those days). Some became performance artists... spreadin' chocolate across themselves and then pouring jars of ants over their heads... or politicians, drawing up legislation in elephant doody. More went into advertising, public relations and the such, so... by them elections as began George III's regime, the dangling chad one... Tipper Gore got flown to Honduras, after a hurricane there, so's people could take pictures of her campin' out after a make-believe long day shoveling mud.

          Why?

          For the children.

          For us, really... as our survival depends on consumerizing, economic and political. If the reduced, so-called G-10 stops buying, the global economy goes out of business (and we’re already flim-flamming the debt ceiling by offloading our obligations onto state and local governments).  China, Thailand and the Taiwanese owners of Vietnamese sweatshops call in their margins unless our children dress up like whores in the magazines and parents... adult children of lax parents, themselves... self-medicate with laxatives, pain pills, SUVs and Botox, and bid thousands, online, for ancient Pez dispensers as get factored into the rosy economic scenarios.

          "We're going to be selling," Joan Rivers used to say on that home-shopping hour a’fore her surgery went awry, "because that's what everybody's doing now." So... when the al-Zazzies took out the St. Louis Arch... the President could go on Fox News with the same what-to-do-America? advice as after 911: Shop!

          In fact, as the Don Jones people point out this week, we shop more and consume more than any other spot on Earth except for the speck that is the United Arab Emirates!

          "If there's going to be nuclear winter," counsels Jill Porter in Philadelphia, "you might as well be dressed for it."

          We consume medical and economic quackery (Xipecac, tenth waves, G-strings and Z-forces!) ambush TV and Trumped-up pedophiliac "beauty pageants", watch Monica and read Casey Anthony's advice columns and worry more about who will replace Oprah or become the next American Icon and expect the same from the Presidency.  We listen to talk radio disinfotainment as ponders, soberly, the merits of exhuming Marilyn Monroe for traces of Presidential DNA. And then, over the summer, people eat bugs and get fired - them with money as slid through the Frannie Mac and student loan fiascos buy big African cockroaches, gussied up with diamonds and gold to wear on their lapels.

          Advertising being like antibiotics, we human, unblinged palmetto bugs gradually develop immunity, necessitating even more devious, stronger doses... like those pop-ups on the CW or the stripmining of our dubious cultural heritage. The Beach Boys' "California Girls" touts Clairol "Herbalessence hair", Carly Simon "anticipates" ketchup flowing from the bottle. Michael Jackson's conservators selling "Yesterday" to that chain of nursing homes, Dylan selling out “I Want You” to whatever the hell we want this week, Cream pimping "I'm So Glad" trash bags, "Satisfaction" hawking that sour lemon soda with the cow hormones and just about every obscure album-track by the effin' Kinks. And, to circle back to punk rock for a sec, at least obituary writers had the decency... or squeamishness... not to mention Joe "Clash" Strummer's selling off "London Calling" to the luxury car people.

          One wonders how the course of marketing history might have changed had Charlie Manson passed his audition for the Monkees!

          "An old song rearranged and used in an ad is not just another jingle," one Carol Lynn Mithers wrote, the first time Jacko licensed "Help" to Lincoln-Mercury, "...it is something that once had memory and personal meaning appropriated until it no longer belongs to me. It is a piece cut out of the soundtrack of my life. It makes part of my past disappear." But, instead of Seneca, our scolding comes from "King Kong II's" plaything Jessica Lange: "... everything is so dull, dull and dangerous at the same time. Everything is so... unromantic!"

          Or, as David Pierce informs me, "Today's avant-garde is tomorrow’s bedspread pattern."

          Americans don't produce much, anymore, but... like Whacko Jacko... still possess valuable trademarks. Gumment's up to its greasy, pencil neck in this... relocating cheese factory home-offices from Wisconsin to Parma, Ohio so's to make runaway Malaysian "Parmesan" street legal, selling off bandwidth frequencies and such to contributors (jailing low-power community TV and streaming radio hams as raise First Amendment objections under the RPA) and writing up extraterritoriality waivers for corporations and neighborhood condo covenanters, as if the Civil War never happened!  Millions of karaoke U-tube lawsuits in the pipeline to squeeze billions from “piratical” teenagers!  And then, replacing Broadway Al Hamilton with Caitlyn Jenner on the tenner as a compromise to the women’s and LGBT ain’t-I-persecuted libbers.

          After Disney bought the rights to throw Americans into their own private prisons, lady from my district got six months in a private Mouskabrig for punching out this teenaged hyena as terrorized her kids. Made her sew costumes fourteen hours the day at a payscale as would have shamed Burma, and the county wouldn't even allow her legal representation, being that the offense had transpired on a place that wasn't... strictly speaking... American.

          "These are magical people," says Ken Norelli, deputy public defender, as handles the wretched populice of Disney's jails.

          One more reason I pray the Coalition for a New Consensus remains haven for both radicals and reactionaries... flying catfish, soaring into the stratosphere of Schiller's phallocratic Spectacle as "thrust(s) outward," like Big Bang debris, to become "a pillar of the emergent imperial society!" With G-spotters and the libertarian Rand Paulists parsing greed as "geo-strategic thinking at the micro inner-space level!"  With the President of the United States jetting down to Puerto Rico to throw a few rolls of paper towels into the crowd of starving, dehydrated hurricane victims and blaming the fake news for reporting on the dead persons that resulted therefrom.

          And with Tipper Gore, wandering down the mud-clogged streets of a Honduran slum, appealing to her own spotters: "Is this where I'm supposed to shovel?" while they kept prodding her down the street, towards a pile of mud at which cameras waited. "It was a strange pile, squarish and flattened, and it seemed odd that it had been left to block the street and hamper rescue efforts," wrote Phil Davison, correspondent for the London Independent. "But to everything there is a purpose."  

   

CLICK the CATFISH to go to PAST and PRESENT EPISODES of "BLACK HELICOPTERS" and to OTHER JACK PARNELL COLUMNS

      ō